Small businesses face a variety of security risks that can impact their bottom line and put their employees' safety at risk. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, small businesses are likelier to experience property crime than larger companies.

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In fact, the survey found that businesses with fewer than 10 employees are the most likely to experience burglary and theft. To protect against these physical security risks, small business owners must take proactive measures to safeguard their property and employees. This article will explore several physical security measures that small businesses can use to protect themselves against burglary, armed robbery, and theft. The following sections will discuss risk assessments, physical security measures such as locks, alarm systems, security cameras, access control systems, fencing and gates, lighting, security personnel, protective glass, security shutters, and safes, as well as employee training. By implementing these measures, small business owners can reduce the likelihood of experiencing security breaches and ensure the safety of their employees and property.

This article will give small business owners the information they need to make informed decisions about protecting their businesses from physical security risks.

Risk Assessment

Conducting a risk assessment is an essential first step in identifying potential security vulnerabilities and implementing effective physical security measures for small businesses. By completing a thorough risk assessment, business owners can identify areas of weakness in their physical security systems and take steps to address them before they become a problem.

Small businesses may face several types of physical security risks, including burglary, armed robbery, and theft: 

  • Burglary is a property crime involving unlawful entry into a building or structure intending to commit a theft or other crime. 

  • Armed robbery involves using a weapon to threaten or intimidate victims into stealing their property.

  • Theft is the unauthorized taking of someone else's property with the intent to deprive the owner of its use or value.

Other physical security risks that small businesses may face include vandalism, arson, and workplace violence. Vandalism involves the destruction or defacement of property, while arson is the intentional setting of a fire to destroy property. Workplace violence can include physical assaults, threats, or other violent behavior by employees or outsiders and can pose a significant risk to the safety and security of small business owners and their employees. By conducting a risk assessment, small business owners can identify potential vulnerabilities in their physical security systems and take proactive steps to address them. This may involve installing security cameras, implementing access control systems, or upgrading locks and other physical security measures. 

Physical security measures

Physical security measures are crucial for small businesses that want to protect their property, employees, and customers from harm. There are a variety of physical security measures that small businesses can use to safeguard their premises, including:

  1. Locks and keys: Installing high-quality locks and using secure keys is an essential first step in protecting a business and ensures that all doors and windows are locked and that keys are kept in a secure location.

  2. Alarm systems: An alarm system can alert business owners and authorities of a break-in or other security breaches. And many modern alarm systems also come equipped with sensors that can detect smoke, fire, and other hazards.

  3. Security cameras: Video surveillance cameras can help deter potential criminals and provide valuable evidence in the event of a security breach. They can also help monitor employee behavior and ensure all company policies are followed.

  4. Access control systems: Access control systems can limit entry to specific business areas, such as storage rooms or offices. This can help prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information or valuable assets.

  5. Fencing and gates: Fencing and gates can help create a physical barrier around a business, making it more difficult for criminals to gain entry. This can also help control access to the premises and limit entry to authorized personnel.

  6. Lighting: Adequate lighting is essential for preventing crime, particularly in areas that are not well-lit. Installing motion-activated lights can help deter potential criminals and alert authorities in the event of suspicious activity.

  7. Security personnel: Hiring security personnel can provide a business with additional protection. This can include security guards, who can patrol the premises and respond to security breaches, or a receptionist who can monitor access to the building.

  8. Protective glass: Installing protective glass can help prevent break-ins and other security breaches. This type of glass is designed to be more challenging to break than standard glass, making it a valuable addition to any business.

  9. Security shutters: Security shutters can be installed over doors and windows to provide an added layer of protection. These shutters are typically made of durable materials that can withstand significant force.

  10. Safes: Safes can store valuable assets, such as cash or sensitive information. They can be bolted to the floor or wall for added security and can only be accessed with a key or combination.

Employee Training

Employee training is crucial to any small business's physical security plan. By providing employees with the necessary knowledge and skills, companies can help prevent security breaches and respond appropriately if a breach does occur.

Small business owners should consider providing the following types of training to their employees:

  1. Identifying suspicious behavior: Employees should be trained to identify suspicious behavior, such as individuals lingering outside the business, wearing unusual clothing, or acting nervous or agitated. By recognizing these signs, employees can alert management or take appropriate action to prevent a potential security breach.

  2. Responding to a security breach: Employees should also be trained to react in a security breach, such as an attempted burglary or armed robbery. This includes knowing how to alert law enforcement, evacuate customers and other employees, and safely lock down the business.

  3. Using security equipment: If the business has security equipment, such as alarm systems or security cameras, employees should be trained to use them properly. This includes knowing how to activate and deactivate the system, access video footage, and report any issues or malfunctions.

By providing employees with comprehensive training, small business owners can create a culture of safety and security, reducing the risk of physical security breaches and keeping employees and customers safe.


In conclusion, small business owners at risk of physical security threats should proactively protect their property and employees. Conducting a risk assessment to identify potential vulnerabilities is the first step toward implementing effective physical security measures. Small businesses can use a variety of physical security measures, such as locks, alarm systems, security cameras, access control systems, fencing and gates, lighting, security personnel, protective glass, security shutters, and safes, to deter criminals and protect their assets. Small business owners should also prioritize employee training in physical security to ensure their employees can identify suspicious behavior and respond appropriately during a security breach.

It cannot be overstated how important it is for small businesses to implement physical security measures to protect themselves from potential threats. Taking the necessary steps to improve physical security can help prevent burglary, armed robbery, and theft, which can cause significant financial and emotional distress.